Understanding Concussions

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 16,510
    Dr. Andrew Lincoln of the Sports Medicine Research Center at MedStar discusses an overview of concussions.

    Dr. Andrew Lincoln: Hi! I am Dr. Andy Lincoln from the MedStar Sports Medicine Research Center. Today were talking about Concussions. Concussions are injuries that occur to the brain. It can happen from an impact to the body or the head.

    Sports concussions arent just an issue in the NFL, sports concussions are becoming really a hot topic because were beginning to understand what a lot of the short-term consequences may be as well as what some long-term effects can also be. And we are also finding it not just among the professional athletes but among the collagen and the high school and the rec athletes as well.

    In our study weve found that over the past 11 years that sports concussions in high school play increased over four-fold from 1997-1998 to 2007-2008. And a lot of that increase we think is attributable to our coaches, our athletes, our athletic trainers and our physicians, just becoming much more familiar with signs and symptoms of concussion, and so theyre doing a much better job at recognizing it and keeping the players out when thats the appropriate thing to do.

    Somewhat surprising was the number of concussions in both Girl Soccer as well as Cheerleading. Girls in general, and women tend to report health conditions more readily than do the males. So that maybe driving part of it.

    There is also the possibility of a hormonal susceptibility with the girls over the boys. Boys tend to have more strength and musculature in the neck and the trunk, and that may absorb more of the energy that maybe imparted and check them relative to the girls.

    There are still many things that we have yet to understand fully about sports concussions and we are trying to explore those right now. We are trying to identify what it is that exactly causes a concussion in the first place so what are the mechanisms that result in concussion. We are also trying to help our clinicians understand when it's safest for the athletes to return to play, so were looking at some biological tests or some markers that will help guide that decision so that when they return it's only after they are fully healed.

    At the MedStar Sports Medicine Research Center we are working directly with the US across Sports Science and Safety Committee to develop prevention alternatives for sports concussion.

    Some of those things involve education of officials to enforce existing rules to prevent head-to-head contact whenever possible, and education of coaches to guide their training and the techniques that their players maybe using. We are also exploring the use of protective equipment.

    We still have a lot to understand about sports concussions, and we are doing both the research as well as the clinical management, so we can best treat our student athletes and get them back on the field when it's safe to do so.